MSU wins second straight invitational in convincing fashion
Another week, another sweep.
The Spartans (11-1 overall) won the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational last weekend. The wins over Eastern Michigan, Duquesne and Cincinnati come a week after sweeping the Butler Invitational.
Senior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski followed her MVP performance by submitting another well-rounded weekend stat line (52 kills, seven service aces, 24 digs and five blocks) to take home this weekend’s MVP honors.
Rounding out weekend honors are junior outside hitter Taylor Galloway and senior setter Kristen Kelsay, who were both All-Tournament selections.
Besides a game two test from Duquesne, who broke MSU’s record of 17 straight undefeated sets, it was an overall solid weekend for MSU.
“We definitely got better at some things this weekend,” Kelsay said. “We also found some things that we wanted to fine-tune. It was good that we got tested this morning by Duquesne, and to be able to come back tonight and kind of grow from that.”
Freshman outside hitter Chloe Reinig and sophomore setter Halle Peterson both made their season debuts during the tournament. Peterson returned from meniscus tear surgery Friday, and Reinig returned from a bout with mononucleosis Saturday.
“I think it’s really important that they got out there,” head coach Cathy George said. “They’re still working their way back and trying to figure out where they are with their overall strength and how they handle being in there this weekend. But so far so good. They did a really good job out there.”
Their return should allow players to return to their natural positions. Junior defensive setter Ryian Hubbard had played setter thus far in the season, a position she hadn’t previously played since high school. Freshman middle blocker Autumn Christenson had been shifted to the outside hitter position, which she had never played prior to the 2013 season.
With the return of two players, George had a deep rotation during the tournament.
“I think we got the chance to play a lot of people and get them ready for what’s next, and make sure we have the adjustments that we need,” George said.
Kelsay said the flexibility on the roster was displayed and will aid the team as the season wears on.
“As we move in the season, we talk about being flexible,” Kelsay said. “We’ve had everyone kind of playing every role for us, which is important because as you go through a season you’re going to have injuries, and I think it’s important to find that flexibility now.”
MSU will take on No. 1 Penn State on Friday. Galloway said the start of Big Ten is what the team has spent all of preseason preparing for.
“This week’s is going to be a tough week of practice,” she said. “We have a lot of work to do getting ready for that. I think we’re going to have a lot of motivation going into Friday.”